Russian Set to Become Second-Generation Spacefarer

A Russian in line to become the first second-generation cosmonaut or astronaut to venture into outer space said Wednesday that there was no father-son rivalry in his family.

Sergei Volkov told reporters at Star City, the cosmonaut-training center outside Moscow, that he hoped to do as well as his father, a highly decorated cosmonaut from the Soviet era.

If his own school-age son wants to become a cosmonaut too, Volkov said, he will seriously discuss the matter with him.

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"If someone decides to follow his father's footsteps, it's a tough decision," the 34-year-old first-time space voyager said. "It is hard to make that decision and there is absolutely no romance about it. It is just that you want to undertake this complex and interesting line of work."

Volkov is scheduled to fly a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station April 8 along with two others, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Yi So-yeon, a South Korean bioengineering student.

Yi, who is expected to become the first South Korean citizen in space, told reporters Wednesday she hopes to inspire young Koreans to study science and encourage peace between South Korea and North Korea.

She will also serve a traditional Korean dinner, she said, and may sing for her colleagues during her 10-day scientific mission to the space station.

"I hope all the Russian guys and the American guys will love my singing," she added.

Yi said her schedule for the flight was so jammed she couldn't remember the titles of all 14 scientific experiments she is expected to perform.

Some of her family members are nervous about the flight, she said.

While she will be the first citizen of her country in space, she said, "for my mother and father, I am just a daughter."

Referring to the spacecraft she will ride to the space station, Yi said she hoped to reassure them that "the Russian Soyuz is really safe, so don't worry about that."

She said she would tell her mother, who prays for her every day, that "God will stare at me and help me."

The South Korean originally chosen for the mission, Ko San, 31, somberly told reporters he regretted having lost the chance to represent his country.

His name was stricken from the crew list earlier this month by Russian space officials, who said he violated regulations by taking a training manual out of Star City.

Ko, an expert in artificial intelligence, will serve as Yi's backup in case she can't make the flight.

He will join the crew during final preparations for the launch from Russia's space complex at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in the Central Asian steppes.

The substitution could be made up to six hours before the flight, officials have said, although that is unlikely.

Ko, who appeared somber and reflective at times during Wednesday's press conference, said Yi was well prepared for the flight.

"I think she will do everything well," he said.

Sergei Volkov is the son of Alexander Volkov, 59, a veteran cosmonaut who logged up 391 days in space on three separate space missions in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was awarded an Order of Lenin and named a Hero of the Soviet Union for his performance.

Volkov was a citizen of the U.S.S.R. when he flew to the Mir Soviet space station in October 1991, but returned as a citizen of the Russian federation in March 1992.

During his time in space, the Soviet Union had dissolved into a number of smaller states.

Later, Alexander Volkov helped direct the training of future cosmonauts at Star City.

Sergei Volkov said he had never felt he was in competition with his father.

"I just want to perform as well as my father, because there are things that he has done that nobody has been able to copy," he said.